deed

To have and to hold the land, pt. 3.

Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-Americans in Wilson County during the first fifty years of freedom:

  • Hilliard Ellis paid R.J. Taylor and wife Gallie Taylor $500 for 92 acres. The purchase was recorded 11 March 1872 in Deed Book 6, page 24, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 21 October 1873, William Airs [Ayers] paid Simon Newsom and Oliver and Penina Farrell $525  for 150 acres. The purchase was recorded 26 October 1874 in Deed Book 9, page 402, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 29 December 1874, Emily Gay paid Frank W. Barnes and wife Mattie B. Barnes $750 for a lot of land containing about one and a half acres on the east side of Wilson near the corporate limits and adjoining R.J. Taylor, Samuel Williams and others for “the sum of her natural life remainder to Charles Gay Mary Gay Ethelders Gay and William F. Gay children of said Emily Gay.”  The purchase was recorded 31 December 1874 in Deed Book 9, page 522, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson. [Gay lost a half-acre of this property in 1885.]
  • Jesse Aires [Ayers] paid Martha Hawley $106 for 16 acres known as “Bits Aires Place” adjoining the lands Hawley and Ayers. The purchase was recorded 13 November 1879 in Deed Book 15, page 489, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • Hilliard Ellis paid Alpheus Branch and wife Nannie Branch and A.J. Hines and wife Eliza A. Hines $300 for a 50-acre parcel adjoining Ellis’ own land. The purchase was recorded 22 December 1879 in Deed Book 16, page 71, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 10 December 1879, Garry Armstrong paid C.S. Braswell and wife Martha A. Braswell $125 for 15 acres. The purchase was recorded on 6 March 1880 in Deed Book 16, page 353, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • Benjamin Hardy paid Thomas Woodard and wife Elmina Woodard $500 for a 29 1/2 acres on the New Road from Barefoots Mills in Cross Roads township. The purchase was recorded 16 December 1880 in Deed Book 16, page 628, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 9 November 1892, Penelope Tynes paid Mahala Artis of Buncombe County, North Carolina, $250 for a 81′ by 143′ lot “in the northern angle of Green and [blank] Streets” adjoining Thomas Knight and Penelope Tynes Proctor. The purchase was recorded 18 November 1892 in Deed Book 31, page 351, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson. [Mahala Artis moved to Asheville, North Carolina, circa 1890.]
  • Hilliard Ellis Jr., Master Workman; Austin Williams, Treasurer; Charles Williams, Financial Secretary; and Milly Ellis, Recording Secretary of Local Association of the Knights of Labor No. 734 paid Hilliard Ellis Sr. one dollar for a one-acre parcel on the west side of the Wilson and Nashville Road in Taylor township. “The condition of this deed is such that whereas the parties of the first part are justly indebted to Hilliard Ellis in the sum of Eighty dollars (money borrowed to erect a building upon the above described land) due and payable Jan’y 1, 1892 with 8 % interest.” If the Lodge defaulted, Ellis Sr. was authorized to sell the parcel on the courthouse steps. This purchase was recorded 10 March 1893 in Deed Book 33, page 246, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

To have and to hold the said land, no. 2.

Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-Americans in Wilson County during the first fifty years of freedom:

  • On 25 February 1878, A.W. Jones paid K.M. Jones, executor of the estate of Milly Jones, $300 for a half-acre parcel in the town of Wilson on Nash Street east of the railroad adjoining the lots of William Smith and Garry Edmundson. The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 14, page 174, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Milly Jones was the mother of A. Wilson Jones and Kernel Morris Jones.

On , Morris Jones married Amanda Gillespie in Wilson.  In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: baker Morris Jones, ; wife Amanda; son Franklin,; and boarder Rosa Galespie, 16. In the 1905 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: In the 1910 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey:

In the 1880 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Wilson Jones, 22, shoemaker.

  • On 1 February 1880, Jordan Taylor paid John T. and Elizabeth Barnes $115 for a quarter-acre lot in Wilson township near the town of Wilson adjoining Peggy Farmer, John T. Barnes and others. The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 18, page 467, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

There were at least two adult African American men named Jordan Taylor in Wilson in this period.

  • On 28 December 1881, Walter Kersey paid C.C. and Sallie Peacock $40 for a 100′ by 135′ lot on Stantonsburg Road near the town of Wilson adjoining John A. Clark and “Henry Ward (col).” The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 18, page 65, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Walter Kersey later migrated to Indiana.

  • On 27 January 1882, Noel Jones paid J.F. Eatman $228 for 45 acres in Old Fields township on the canal in “the Mill Stone Swamp.” The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 18, page 258, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: laborer Noel Jones, 34; wife Sarah, 32; and children Josiah, 13, Charity, 12, Edith J., 10, Noel J., 6, and Asberry, 6.

Per William Powell and Michael Hill’s North Carolina Gazetteer, 2nd ed., “Millstone Creek rises in nw Wilson County and flows e approx. 5 mi. to join Juniper Creek in forming Bloomery Swamp. Named prior to 1783 for the fact that millstones were made from a type of stone found there.”

 

Saratoga’s Knights of Labor buy land.

The Wilson Lodge of the Knights of Labor was not the only African-American lodge operating in the county. In 1888, the Saratoga branch purchased a lot in the Town of Saratoga, presumably upon which to build a small hall. Here is the deed transcribed from Book 26, pages 378-379:

This deed made the 31st day of March 1888 by and between W.B. Young party of the first part and Essic Horn Blount Bess Benjamin Ruffin and Robert Hines trustees for the Lodge of the Knights of Labor (col) No 8221 of Saratoga Wilson County North Carolina the parties of the second part Witnesseth That for and in consideration of the sum of Eighty five (85) Dollars in hand paid by the parties of the second part the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged the party of the first part has bargained and sold and by these presents does give grant bargain sell and convey unto the parties of the second part all that lot or parcel of land lying in the Town of Saratoga Wilson County State aforesaid and fully described in a deed made by John Robbins and wife to said W.B. Young and recorded in Book No 23 and page 336 in the office of Register of Deeds of Wilson County to which deed reference is made for description of said land To have and to hold together with all rights priviledges and appurtenances thereunto belonging, to the parties of the second part and their successors in office and assigns in fee simple forever. And the said W.B. Young does covenant to and with the parties of the second part & their successors in office and assigns that he has a right to convey the above described land that the same is free from encumbrance, and that he will forever warrant and defend the title to the same against the lawful claims of all persons whomsoever. In testimony whereof, I the said W.B. Young have hereunto set my hand and seal the day and year first above written   /s/ W.B. Young  Witness J.D. Barden

——

  • Essie Horn — in the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Essic [Essex] Horn, 50, and children Abraham, 20, Diana, 18, Henry, 17, Aggie, 15, Sam, 13, Herbert, 8, and Walter, 3.
  • Blount Bess — in the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Blount Best, 53; wife Sarah, 44; and children Joe H., 27, John I., 20, Minnie, 18, Blount, 16, Ida, 14, Annie, 13, Mariah, 10, Ella, 8, Albert, 4, Sack, 2, and Joshua, 1.
  • Benjamin Ruffin — in the in the 1880 census of Gardners township, WIlson County: farm laborer Benn Ruffin, 56; wide Salie, 45; and children Margret, 16, July A., 13, Charley, 10, Mary, 8, Louvenna, 6, William, 4, and Sallie, 1.
  • Robert Hines — in the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: laborer Robert Hines, 21, and wife Elizabeth, 18.

Vick buys a lot from the Knights of Labor.

In 1891, Samuel H. Vick purchased the lot upon which he built the Orange Hotel from the trustees of Knights of Labor Local 10699, an organization of which he was a member. The Knights of Labor had purchased the lot from William Smith and wife Harriett Smith on 22 December 1887 for $300.

S.H. Vick built a hotel-cum-boarding house at 519 East Nash Street on land he purchased at a discount from the Knights of Labor. The building is shown here on the 1903 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson.

Here is a transcription of Vick’s deed, which is found in Book 30, Pages 92-93, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson:

This deed made by John H. Clark, John Ratley, Gilbert Stallings, William Goffney, George Harris, Wilson Sharpe and Daniel Vick, trustees of Local Assembly Number 10,699, Knights of Labor (the same being successors to James Bynum, Jack Hilliard, Wilson Sharpe, Charles Barnes, Daniel Vick, Wade Barnes, Samuel Williams, Samuel H. Vick and Reddick Strickland, former trustees of said assembly) the parties of the first part to S.H. Vick the Party of the second part all of the County of Wilson and State of North Carolina. Witnesseth that that [sic] the said parties of the first part by the direction of said assembly in meeting assembled and in consideration of the sum of Two hundred and fifty dollars to them in hand paid by the said party of the second part the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have bargained sold and conveyed and do by these presents bargain sell and convey unto him the said S.H. Vick One certain lot or parcel of land, lying and being Situate in the Town of Wilson State aforesaid on Nash Street adjoining the lands of Peter Rountree R.J. Taylor and others and bounded as follows. Beginning at Peter Rountrees corner on Nash Street thence with said Rountrees line to R.J. Taylors line thence nearly northwest to Henry Jones line thence with said Jones line to Nash Street thence with said Street to the beginning Containing One half acre more or less and for a more particular description of said land reference is made to the deed of Jas. E. Clark administrator to William Smith recorded in Book No 16 Page 373, in the Registers office of Wilson County.

To have, and to hold, said lot or parcel of land unto him the said S.H. Vick his heirs and assigns in fee simple together with all the privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging or appertaining to his and their only use & behoof and the said parties of the first part do for themselves their heirs and successors in office warrant to deed with the said S.H. Vick & his heirs that they will forever warrant and defend the title to said land against the lawful claims of and and all persons whomsoever to him the said S.H. Vick & his heirs. Witness our hands & seals this the 9th day of March 1891

[Signed] John Henry Clark, John (X) Ratley, Gilbert (X) Stallings, William (X) Goffney, George (X) Harris, Wilson (X) Sharpe, Daniel (X) Vick. Witness as to all J.D. Bardin

——

  • John H. Clark
  • John Ratley — John Ratley, 37, married Eliza Mitchell, 31, on 26 August 1872 in Wilson. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Suggs Street, South Carolina-born John Ratley, 88; daughter Martha, 45, servant; and boarder Kernal Jordan, 46, wagon factory laborer. John Rattley died 22 February 1922 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 90 years old; was born in South Carolina to unknown parents; was a widower; resided at 630 Suggs Street; and had been a laborer. Martha Rattley Jordan was informant. [Martha Rattley, as financial secretary, signed Jane Bynum’s Knights of Labor dues card in 1888.]
  • Gilbert Stallings — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Gilbert Stallings, 28; wife Georgeanna, 23; and children Clara, 6, and Mary, 2. Gilbert Stallings died 13 August 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 8 February 1854 in Franklin County to John Stallings and Hannah Upperman; was married; and was a farmer. Informant was G.W. Stallings.
  • William Goffney
  • George Harris
  • Wilson Sharpe – probably, in the 1880 census of Taylors township, farmer Wilson Sharp, 52; wife Cherry, 45; nephew Jerry Bynum, 6; and James Mitchel, 47, with wife Rosa, 33, and son James G., 11.
  • Daniel Vick
  • James Bynum
  • Jack Hilliard — in the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Jack Hilliard, 40, farmer; wife Laura, 25; and children Mattie, 5, John, 3, and Doctor, 1.
  • Charles Barnes
  • Wade Barnes
  • Samuel Williams
  • Samuel H. Vick
  • Reddick Strickland — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Redick Strickland, 54; wife Mary, 51; and children Berry, 23, Joseph, 20, Robert, 18, Spencer, 13, and Lily, 10; and grandfather Solomon Strickland, 102.
  • Peter Rountree

The collapse of the Vick empire.

A deed of trust is essentially an agreement between a lender and a borrower to give legal title to a property to a neutral third party who will serve as a trustee. The trustee holds the property until the borrower pays off the debt owed to the lender. During the period of repayment, the borrower keeps the actual or equitable title to the property and generally maintains full responsibility for the premises. The trustee, however, holds the legal title to the property and is empowered to sell the property to satisfy the debt if the borrower defaults.  Once the sale is complete, the trustee will distribute the proceeds between the borrower and the lender. The lender gets whatever funds are required to satisfy the debt, and the borrower receives anything in excess of that amount.

On a single day in April 1935, Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick lost nearly all of their wealth, including their home. The Vicks were heavily in debt and had defaulted on their loans.  Trustee Mechanics and Farmers Bank, an offshoot of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (and one of a handful of black North Carolina banks to survive the Great Depression), offered dozens of their properties for sale. On 4 April 1935, as recorded in Deed Book 221, pages 333-341, Home Development Corporation purchased the following tracts — comprising 109 houses and lots, 4 additional vacant lots, and 2 large parcels — for $35,000:

  • Tract 1 — the house and lot at 310 [North] Pender Street.
  • Tract 2 — the house and lot at 313 [North] Pender Street.
  • Tract 2-A — the houses and lots at 401, 403, 407 and 409 Viola Street.
  • Tract 3 — “off of and south of Plank road [East Nash Street], adjoining the lands of Harry Clark and others.”
  • Tract 4 — a 19-room house on Vance Street. [This is likely the building that housed the Independent School.]
  • Tract 5-A — the house and lot at 714 East Viola Street.
  • Tract 5-B — the “Vick Home Place” at 622 East Green Street. [The Vicks regained title to this house, which remains in family hands today.]
  • Tract 5-C — the houses and an empty lot at 711, 713 and 717 East Green Street.
  • Tract 5-D — the house and lot at 716 East Green Street.
  • Tract 5-E — the house and lot at 703 East Green Street.
  • Tract 5-F — the house and lot at 709 East Green Street.
  • Tract 5-G — the houses and lots at 606, 608, 610, 612 and 614 East Vance Street.
  • Tract 5-H — the houses and lots at 630 and 632 East Vance Street.
  • Tract 5-I — the house and lot at 620 East Vance Street.
  • Tract 5-J — the house and lot at 624 East Vance Street.
  • Tract 5-K — the house and lot at 628 East Vance Street.
  • Tract 5-L — the houses and lots at 617 and 619 East Viola Street.
  • Tract 5-M — the houses and lots at 705 and 707 East Viola Street.
  • Tract 5-N — the house and lot at 623 Darden Alley [now Lane].
  • Tract 6 — the houses and lots at 701 and 703 East Vance Street.
  • Tract 7 — a 5820 square-foot lot on Viola Street.
  • Tract 8 — the house and lot at 508 East Green Street.
  • Tract 9 — the houses and lots at 509 and 511 [East] Green Street.
  • Tract 10 — the houses and lots at 503 and 505 [East] Green Street.
  • Tract 12 — the houses and lots at 529, 531 and 533 East Nash Street.
  • Tract 13 — the houses and lots at 543, 545, 547 and 549 East Nash Street.
  • Tract 25-A — the buildings and lots at 535, 537 and 539 East Nash Street.
  • Tract 25-B — the house and lot at 526 Smith Street.
  • Tract 25-C — the house and lot at 522 Smith Street.
  • Tract 25-D — the house and lot at 516 Smith Street.
  • Tract 25-E — the houses and lots at 523 and 525 Smith Street.
  • Tract 25-F — the houses and lots at 517 and 519 Smith Street.
  • Tract 14 — the house and lot at 518 East Nash Street.
  • Tract 15 — a 53′ by 153′ lot on Church Alley [now Street].
  • Tract 17 — the houses and lots at 402 and 404 Vick’s Alley [now Parker Lane].
  • Tract 18 — the house and lot at 503 South Spring [now Lodge] Street.
  • Tract 19 — a 7200 square-foot lot adjoining Louis Townsend, near Spring Street [now Lodge].
  • Tract 20 — the houses and lots at 406 and 408 Vick’s Alley [now Parker Lane].
  • Tract 21 — the houses and lots at 403, 405, 407 and 409 Vick’s Alley [now Parker Lane].
  • Tract 23 — the houses and lots at 206 and 208 South Manchester Street.
  • Tract 26-A — the houses and lots at 810 and 812 Elvie [formerly, Elliott] Street.
  • Tract 26-B — the house and lot at 1002 Elvie Street.
  • Tract 26-C — the houses and lots at 801 and 803 Elvie Street.
  • Tract 26-D — the house and lot at 811 Elvie Street.
  • Tract 26-E — the house and lot at 908 Elvie Street.
  • Tract 27 — the house and lot at 607 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
  • Tract 28 — the house and lot at 600 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
  • Tract 29 — the houses and lots at 213, 215 and 217 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
  • Tract 31-A — the houses and lots at 903 and 907 Mercer Street.
  • Tract 31-B — the house and lot at 915 Mercer Street.
  • Tract 32 — a lot on Sugg[s] Street.
  • Tract 33 — the house and lot at 700 Suggs Street.
  • Tract 34-A — the house and lot at 309 Hackney Street.
  • Tract 34-B — the houses and lots at 305 and 307 Hackney Street.
  • Tract 35-A — the house and lot at 617 Darden Alley [Lane].
  • Tract 35-B — the house and lot at 623 Darden Alley [Lane].
  • Tract 37 — the houses and lots at 109, 111, 113, 115, 117 and 201 East Street.
  • Tract 38 — the houses and lots at 108 and 110 Ashe Street.
  • Tract 39 — the houses and lots at 114, 116 and 118 East Street.
  • Tract 40 — 40 acres in Wilson township.
  • Tract 42 — the houses and lots at 400, 402 and 404 Hines Street.
  • Tract 43 — the houses and lots at 500 and 502 East Vance Street.
  • Tract 44 — the house and lot at 712 East Vance and the adjoining lot.
  • Tract 45 — the house and lot at 603 Darden Alley [Lane].
  • Tract 46 — the house and lot at 504 [North] Vick Street.
  • Tract 47 — the house and lot at 504 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
  • Tract 48 — the house and lot at 515 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
  • Tract 49 — the house and lot at 201 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
  • Tract 16 — the house and lot at 519 Church Street.

Separate deeds filed the same day showed the transfer of (1) a 50-acre subdivided parcel (minus several dozen lots already sold) from trustee E.R. Merrick to Home Development Corporation for $3500 (Deed Book 221, page 332), and (2) 7 lots on Suggs, Vick, Church and Viola Streets from trustee R.L. McDougald to Home Development Corporation for $6000 (Deed Book 221, page 331). Both transactions involved land the Vicks had borrowed against.

Marked with red asterisks, this roughly six-block area shows the locations of 34 properties held in trust by Merchants and Farmers Bank and sold on 4 April 1935. Many were small shotgun houses built for rental to working-class families. Excerpt from page 32 of the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C. 

The last will and testament of George A. Barnes.

George A. Barnes dictated his will on 24 August 1907.

He had detailed wishes: (1) all his crops to his wife; (2) a life estate in all his land to his wife, Annie Barnes; (3) subject to the life estate, his house and four acres on Hominy Swamp to son George and daughter Minnie, with certain stipulations re its disposal;

(4) subject to the life estate, two acres to daughter Edmonia Farmer; (5) subject to the life estate, two acres to son Joshua Barnes; (6) subject to the life estate, two acres to son Billy Barnes; (7) subject to the life estate, an 18-acre tract to son General Barnes (minus Joshua’s two acres), which is “perfectly fair” because General furnished one hundred dollars for his father to purchase the land and because General cared for George and Annie in their old age.

George A. Barnes died in the spring of 1910, and son George Washington Barnes applied for probate of the will on 11 May 1910. As his widow Annie Barnes held a life estate in all his real property, his estate required minimal handling. However, Annie Barnes died the day after Christmas 1917, and less than a month later their children (and spouses) sold all but two of George A.’s 28 acres for $3000 to A.F. Williams, a white physician (who had treated their mother in her final illness.) The remaining two acres belonged to son Joshua Barnes, who, astonishingly, died exactly one week later of tuberculosis.

Deed Book __, Page 6-7, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson. 

——

George Barnes married Anaca Mercer on 31 October 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: George Barnes, 30; wife Annie, 24; and children Hardy, 8, Rena, 7, Edna, 1, and Jesse, 3.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: south of the Plank Road, farmer George Farmer, 41; wife Anna, 34; and children Hardy, 19, Reny, 17, Jessee, 12, Edmonia, 11, George, 9, Minnie Adeline, 6, Joshua and General, 3, and William, 1 month.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: George A. Barnes, 60, farmer; wife Annie, 53; children George, 23, teacher, Joshaway, 22, farmer, and Jenerl, 22, teacher; grandson Paul, 11; son Harda, 32, and daughter-in-law Nancy, 30.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on County Line Road, farmer George Barnes, 71; wife Annie, 66; son Joshua, 34; and grandchildren Charlie, 8 , and Hattie Palm, 5.

Annie Barnes died 26 December 1917 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was 72 years old; was born in Wilson County to George Battle; and was a widow. George Barnes was informant.

Joshua Barnes died 29 January 1918 in Wilson township. Per his death certificate, he was about 40 years old; was born in Wilson County to George A. Barnes of Wilson County and Annie Battle of Edgecombe County; and died of consumption. George W. Barnes was informant.

George Washington Barnes died 13 April 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; was born in Wilson County to George A. Barnes of Wilson County and Annie Battle of Edgecombe County; was married to Mary Barnes; and worked as a photographer.

General Barnes died 7 January 1938 at his home at 518 North 58th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was 62 years old; was married; was born in North Carolina to George Barnes and Annie Battle; and worked as a clerk/postal employee. Mary Barnes was informant.

Edmonia Farmer died 18 January 1947 at her home at 706 East Green Street. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old; was born in Wilson County to George Barnes and Annie Parker; and was married to John Wash Farmer. Informant was George W. Farmer, 1207 Carolina Street.

Minnie Baines died 5 December 1963 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born November 1877 in Wilson County to George Barnes and Annie (last name unknown); was a widow; and resided at 309 North Reid Street. Informant was Hattie Evans, 309 North Reid.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Towe buys a house and lot for $900.

IMG_3313

North Carolina, Wilson County  }

This Deed made this the 30th day of March 1898 by Silas Lucas and wife, Charity Lucas, parties of the first part and G.H. Towe party of the Second part, all of the State and County aforesaid, Witnesseth:- That for and in consideration of the Sum of Nine Hundred Dollars in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, the Said parties of the first part have bargained and Sold and do by this deed bargain, Sell and convey unto the Said party of the Second part, his heirs and assigns, the following described land: One lot or parcel of land lying and being Situate in the town of Wilson, State and County aforesaid on Nash Street on the South Side of the Colored Odd Fellows Lodge, beginning at the corner of Said Odd Fellows lot, thence about eighty feet Eastward to Charles Dardin‘s line, thence South with Said Dardin’s line about Eighty feet to a light wood Stake, thence west parallel with the first named line to Nash Street, thence with Nash Street to the beginning, being part of the lot purchased by the said Silas Lucas from A.D. Farmer and also being the lot on which the Said G.H. Towe now resides To Have and To Hold To Him the Said G.H. Towe, his heirs and assigns, forever. And the Said Lucas does for himself, his heirs, administrators and executors, covenants and agrees to and with the Said Towe that he will forever warrant and defend the title to the above described real estate against the lawful Claims of all persons whatsoever.

In Testimony whereof the Said parties of the first part have hereunto Set their hands and Seals the day and year first above written.    /s/ Silas Lucas, Charity Lucas

——

A year after he bought this property, Granville H. Towe‘s lot on Nash Street was listed on a delinquent property tax list.

Deed book 46, page 455, Register of Deeds, Wilson County Court House.

The Dardens secure their son’s start.

In March 1905, Charles H. and Diana Darden conveyed to their son Camillus L. Darden a one-quarter interest (with a life interest retained) in a lot on the south side of Nash Street “whereon is located the new shop and hall” in order to encourage his interest in a bicycle repair business. The elder Dardens also leased to C.L. Darden one-half of the first and second floors in the shop building. The lease was to continue year after year for five dollars per year as long as C.L. pursued his business. If C.L. ever wished to sell his interest in the property, his parents had right of first refusal to purchase it for $250.

Deed book 72, page 49, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

The demise of Grabneck, pt. 2.

The sentiment prevailing in 1924, as expressed in the Wilson Daily Times, bears repeating:

“The history of this Grab Neck property is interesting. Four years ago there were in this locality a number of small houses, that stood in the way of the progress of the city, and Mr. Roscoe Briggs put up the money in order to remove this obstacle.”

The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson’s West Nash Street corridor makes this obstacle plain:

At the end of the 19th century and through World War II, Wilson’s tobacco barons and other wealthy businessmen and professionals lined blocks of Nash west of downtown with fine homes in a variety of architectural styles. By 1920, several blocks away, just beyond city limits, developers laid out West End Park in a tidy grid of new streets, including West End, Kincaid and Clyde Avenues. Between these neighborhoods, like a foot wedged in a door, was a large uncharted expanse whose few tiny clapboard houses clustered in the 1100 block of Nash. Who owned this land?

By and large, one family — the children and grandchildren of Daniel and Jane Best.

The Bests and their small houses were standing in the way of Wilson’s westward progress, and Briggs bought them out. On 27 March 1920, he did business with four sets of Bests:

  • from Clinton and Minnie Best [who preferred the spelling “Bess”] for $4250, Briggs bought three lots in Grabneck adjoining other Bests, Leah Holloway, U.H. Cozart, Tobe Barnes and Henry Barnes. (Deed book 125, page 62)
  • from Orren and Hancy Best, for $5000, Briggs bought “all of the land owned by Orren Best in Grabneck,” two lots on Nash Road adjoining Jeff Holloway and Frank and Noah Best (Deed book 125, page 64)
  • from Frank and Mamie Best, in exchange for a house to be built in Griffin Hill by John H. Griffin, Briggs purchased one lot.  (Deed book 125, page 65)
  • from Noah Best, for $8250, Briggs bought four lots. (Deed book 125, page 65)

These sales set the stage for the auction described in the Times article, but there were still some holdouts. The red arrow on the Sanborn map indicates this one-story dwelling at 1105 Nash:

It was the home of Wilson and Ada Best. In October 1925, they finally relented, accepting $4000 from H.W. and Margaret Abbitt for their 66 by 200-foot lot on Nash Street.

The Abbitts quickly tore down the Bests’ little frame house, and in 1926 erected an impressive Colonial Revival residence. The 1930 Sanborn fire insurance map shows how quickly developers moved into the area vacated by the Bests.  On the northeast side of West Nash Street, a sinuous extension of Vance Street was cut through, and houses sprang up along West Cone and West Gold.

On the southeast side, all of the Bests’ houses were razed to make room for the muscular brick showplaces of white Wilson’s elite.

Grabneck was gone.

The Abbitt house, 1105 West Nash Street.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2018.